Psalm 105
Clarke's Commentary
An exhortation to praise God for his wondrous works, Psalm 105:1-5; his goodness to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Psalm 105:6-16; to Joseph in Egypt, Psalm 105:17-22; to Israel in Egypt, Psalm 105:23-25; to Moses in the same land, Psalm 105:26; the plagues sent on the Egyptians, Psalm 105:27-36; the deliverance of the Israelites out of Egypt, Psalm 105:37, Psalm 105:38; how he supported them in the wilderness, Psalm 105:39-43; and brought them into Canaan, Psalm 105:44, Psalm 105:45.

We find several verses of this Psalm in 1 Chronicles 16, from which it is evident that David was the author of the principal part of it: but it was probably enlarged and sung at the restoration of the people from the Babylonish captivity. The hallelujah which terminates the preceding Psalm, is made the title of this by the Vulgate, Septuagint, Ethiopic, and Arabic: but it has no title either in the Hebrew or Chaldee. The Syriac considers it a paraphrase on the words, "Fear not, Jacob, to go down into Egypt; and teach us spiritually not to fear when we are obliged to contend with devils; for God is our shield, and will fight for us." The Psalm is a history of God's dealings with Abraham and his posterity, till their settlement in the promised land.

O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.
O give thanks - He had been meditating on God's gracious dealings with their fathers; and he calls upon himself and all others to magnify God for his mercies.

Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.
Talk ye of all his wondrous works - נפלאתיו niphleothaiv, "of his miracles." Who have so many of these to boast of as Christians! Christianity is a tissue of miracles; and every part of the work of grace on the soul is a miracle. Genuine Christian converts may talk of miracles from morning to night; and they should talk of them, and recommend to others their miracle-working God and Savior.

Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.
Glory ye in his holy name - Show the name Jesus: exult in it - praise it. His name was called Jesus; because he came to save his people from their sins.

Let the heart of them rejoice - That is, the heart of those shall rejoice who seek the Lord: therefore it is added: -

Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.
Seek the Lord - Worship the one only Supreme Being, as the only and all-sufficient good for the soul of man.

And his strength - Man is weak; and needs connection with the strong God that he may be enabled to avoid evil and do good.

Seek his face - Reconciliation to him. Live not without a sense of his favor.

Evermore - Let this be thy chief business. In and above all thy seeking, seek this.

Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;
Remember his marvellous works - Keep up communion with thy Maker, that thou mayest neither forget him nor his works.

The judgments of his mouth - Whatsoever he has spoken concerning good or evil. His commands, promises, threatenings; and particularly what he has foretold, and what he has done.

O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen.
O ye seed of Abraham - Ye Jews especially, who have been the peculiar objects of the Divine favor.

He is the LORD our God: his judgments are in all the earth.
He is the Lord our God - He is Jehovah, the self-existent and eternal God. He is our God, he is our portion; has taken us for his people, and makes us happy in his love.

The following abstract of the history of the Israelites presents but few difficulties. See the notes on Psalm 78 (note).

He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations.
Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac;
And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant:
Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance:
When they were but a few men in number; yea, very few, and strangers in it.
But a few men - When all appearances were against them, and nothing but the arm of God could have brought them through their difficulties, and given them a settlement in the promised land.

When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people;
When they went from one nation to another - From several circumstances in the history of the travels of the ancient Hebrews, we find that the wilderness through which they then passed was well peopled.

He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes;
Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.
Touch not mine anointed - It is supposed that the patriarchs are here intended; but the whole people of Israel may be meant. They were a kingdom of priests and kings unto God; and prophets, priests, and kings were always anointed.

Moreover he called for a famine upon the land: he brake the whole staff of bread.
He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:
Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron:
Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.
Until the time that his word came - This appears to refer to the completion of Joseph's interpretation of the dreams of the chief butler and baker.

The Word of the Lord tried him - This seems to refer to the interpretation of Pharaoh's dreams, called אמרת יהוה imrath Yehovah, "the oracle of the Lord," because sent by him to Pharaoh. See Genesis 41:26, and Kennicott in loco.

The king sent and loosed him; even the ruler of the people, and let him go free.
He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance:
To bind his princes at his pleasure; and teach his senators wisdom.
Israel also came into Egypt; and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.
And he increased his people greatly; and made them stronger than their enemies.
He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtilly with his servants.
He turned their heart - "Their heart was turned." So the Syriac and Arabic. After befriending the Hebrews on Joseph's account, to whom they were so deeply indebted, finding them to multiply greatly in the land, and at last to become more powerful than the Egyptians themselves, they turned their attention to the adoption of measures, in order to prevent the Hebrews from possessing themselves of the government of the whole land; they curtailed them of their privileges, and endeavored to depress them by all possible means, and by a variety of legal enactments. This appears to be the sole meaning of the phrase, "He turned their heart;" or, "their heart was turned."

He sent Moses his servant; and Aaron whom he had chosen.
They shewed his signs among them, and wonders in the land of Ham.
They showed his signs - Here is a reference to the plagues with which God afflicted the Egyptians. See Exodus 7-12 (note), Psalm 78:43 (note), and the notes on them.

He sent darkness, and made it dark; and they rebelled not against his word.
They rebelled not against his word - Instead of ולא מרו velo maru, "they rebelled," some think that a ש shin has been lost from before the word, and that it should be read ולא שמרו velo shamru, "they did not observe or keep his word." Or the words may be spoken of Moses and Aaron; they received the commandment of God, and they did not rebel against it. They believed what he had spoken, and acted according to his orders. It could not be spoken of the Egyptians; for they rebelled against his words through the whole course of the transactions.

He turned their waters into blood, and slew their fish.
Their land brought forth frogs in abundance, in the chambers of their kings.
He spake, and there came divers sorts of flies, and lice in all their coasts.
He gave them hail for rain, and flaming fire in their land.
He smote their vines also and their fig trees; and brake the trees of their coasts.
He smote their vines also, and their fig trees - This is not mentioned in Exodus; but we have had it before, Psalm 78:47.

He spake, and the locusts came, and caterpillers, and that without number,
And did eat up all the herbs in their land, and devoured the fruit of their ground.
He smote also all the firstborn in their land, the chief of all their strength.
He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there was not one feeble person among their tribes.
Egypt was glad when they departed: for the fear of them fell upon them.
He spread a cloud for a covering; and fire to give light in the night.
The people asked, and he brought quails, and satisfied them with the bread of heaven.
He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places like a river.
He opened the rock, and the waters rushed out - See the note on Exodus 17:6, to which I can now add, that a piece of this rock, broken off by the hand of my nephew, E. S. A. Clarke, in the course of the present year [1822,] now lies before me. It is fine granite; and so well distinguished as a granite, that the feldt-spar, the mica, and the quartz, of which granite is composed, appear very distinctly. It is worthy of remark, that, as granite is supposed, in the most accredited systems of geology, to be the very basis of the earth, the original rock, and all other substances to be superimpositions upon it, and as the decompositions of the feldt-spar produce pure vegetable earth, this rock should be used for this purpose, and should be an emblem of Jesus Christ, the Creator and Redeemer of the human race; and that it should signify him who is the basis of all things; who upholds all by the word of his power; without whom nothing is stable, nothing fruitful; from whom alone the water of life proceeds; and in whose name only is salvation. And that rock (in the wilderness) was Christ! and it is the only remaining emblem of him in creation.

For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham his servant.
And he brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness:
And gave them the lands of the heathen: and they inherited the labour of the people;
That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws. Praise ye the LORD.
That they might observe his statutes - That they might be properly instructed, and properly disciplined. This is the end proposed by Divine revelation: men are to be made wise unto salvation, and then to be brought under the yoke of obedience. He who is not conformed to God's word shall not enter into Christ's kingdom.

Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke [1831].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

Bible Hub
Psalm 104
Top of Page
Top of Page